Obesity and our Kids….

There’s been a lot of discussion in my circles about the Anti-Obesity Ad Campaign in GA  by the Strong4Life organization… (and trust me when I say that far more “important” bloggers have discussed this issue, so visit their posts to learn more – specifically Mamavation and AspiringMama) and honestly I’ve avoided talking about it.  But… I have a thought… an opinion… and guess what?  I’m gonna share it for what it’s worth….(shocking… I know)

It seems that this campagin has sparked a heated debate because most of the people I hear from are in one of two camps. The first camp is the “Suck-it-up-Tough-Love” camp.  The Second is the “Shame-doesn’t-solve-anything” camp.

I’m firmly ensconced in the second.  FIRMLY.  but I hadn’t really identified why that was…. until now.

When I first read about it, I knew it rubbed me the wrong way and struck a cord so deep that it was uncomfortable… REALLY uncomfortable.  It was almost a trigger as I flashed back to High school (which at this point seems like an eternity ago) when I first looked in the mirror and saw a fat girl… mostly because my high school dance team director told me I was too fat to dance…

I’m gonna let that sink in for a minute.  Really?  Too fat to dance?  I assure you, I wasn’t.  I. WAS. GORGEOUS. (ok, still am but you know what I mean… and I’m humble too) I wasn’t a stick figure… even in high school “the girls” were predominant… I stood 5′ 7″ and had all the curves I have now in smaller proportions.  And high school in the early 90’s also meant a HEALTHY dose of Aqua Net most days (what?  Don’t judge) and I’m sure that along with all the make up we wore had to weigh something… but I digress…

I want to say that I hovered somewhere around the 140-150 mark back then – a VERY respectable weight but was told I was too fat to dance.  All because someone somewhere had a “magic chart” of what I “should” weigh… (don’t get me back on my “should” soapbox).  The worst part was that I believed her.

Dancing was my life.  It was all I ever wanted to do… and here in Texas, where football is a religion, all the “cool girls” were either on the dance team or cheerleaders… and I have no ability to do back handsprings, so…. But the same woman who would bring in donuts and breakfast tacos periodically for us to enjoy, was telling me I was fat.  And then… in time… I became the fat girl she saw…

But I digress…again…

I’ve been on this path of “self-re-discovery” as of late and if you know me AT ALL, you know I’m an overly analytical person ANYWAY so I had to really look at why the ad campaign bothered me.

What I realized… is that in my experience… Weight is a symptom.  And… it RARELY tells the whole story. So we are attacking a symptom without getting to the root of the issue.

There are a number of reasons why someone might be overweight.

It could be environmental – over eating, eating the wrong kinds of foods – fried, junk, fast food…

It could be a lack of activity – too much time sitting in school, playing video games, etc…

It could be emotional/mental – eating to dull the pain, filling an internal void, hiding behind a thick wall so no one sees them, feeling worthless, feeling unloved, etc…

It could be medical – there are some conditions that attribute to weight gain.

You get my point, right?

For me… IT was ALWAYS emotional.  My mother STILL is an amazing cook and taught me the right foods to eat.  I grew up eating tons of vegetables and fish and poultry with Red meat on occasion.  Soda was a treat and not something we had every day. Yep, she’s pretty perfect… So when I was eating with her, I was eating right.  but then… when I was alone… there were the secret trips to the pantry where I would silence the pain I felt from other issues I’m not here to discuss at this juncture and smother them with food.  Anything I could get my hands on.  And I didn’t know why I would do that, but the empty containers I’d hide under my bed were a HUGE flashing neon sign that there was a problem.  Not a problem that I recognized until fairly recently of course, but a problem.  My mom had her hands full with my brother (again, not something I’m here to discuss right now) and had no reference for the issues I was dealing with.  I don’t blame her – Hell!  It took me 30-some-odd years to figure it out myself!

I guess what I’m saying is that before we start finger pointing… and laying blame – either on the kids or on the parents – why aren’t we trying to figure out the REAL problem… not the symptom.

If you had debilitating back pain, would you be ok if your doctor handed you some asprin and said – “There you go!  That will fix the problem!”?  I hope not.  I hope you would ask WHY?!?!?!  Why does my back hurt and what do we do to treat the REAL problem…

The same is true for overweight kids…and adults…and me.

Find the Why and you FIX the problem.  You break the cycle.

Teach them.  Empower them.  Help them find their own worth.  Introduce new activities that they may find a knack for.  Re-vamp the school lunches that they are eating.  Touch their hearts and souls… because at the end of the day, pointing fingers doesn’t solve anything… I learned that from my dance instructor… Her finger pointing and blame and attempts to shame me had the reverse effect…and I fear that these ads will be the same.



  1. I adore you and your way with words.
    And Im still struggling with why no one (the big greater no one) ever seems to wanna really delve in and help and as you say find the problem.
    I keep returning to the idea that DOING THAT WOULD BE WORK.
    time and hard and challenging and exhausting and *yes* worthwhile.
    but no one (the bigger greater no one) wants to do the work.

    • And I adore YOU…

      It’s a shame that we (collectively) agree that the work needs to be done and yet no one (the bigger greater no one) wants to…

      Le Sigh…

      THANK you for your input!

  2. You took the words right out of my mouth except for it was being Flag Corps. I think if we’d focus on finding out the why for most things and not just band aid the situations we’d get alot farther in most areas. ( behavioral issues, weight, etc). I think if we keep labeling everyone then we are going to have so many young adults who don’t know who they are, and think of all the wonderful things we will miss out on that they could have been or done because we were too busy shaming them and labeling them.

    • I also get that it’s easier to just label and stick with stereo-types… Unfortunately, nothing worth having is easy… (Where have I heard that before?) The same is true here. It may be hard to uncover the root of the issue but at the end of the day, we owe it to ourselves and our kids to do just that.

  3. As a cheerleader in high school I always felt like a big girl at 127 lbs. I have to say whenever my fellow teammates made a comment about my eating or why I wasn’t a size 2, I just ate more. Feeling ashamed doesn’t inspire many people to make changes. Instead it caused me to withdraw more into myself and do less… exactly the opposite of what I should have been doing to stay healthy and happy! I agree with you, shame just isn’t a good road to go down. Shame can destroy and no child should ever be hurt like that.

    • what’s that saying… the road to hell is paved with good intentions? I get that people MEAN well… but so often it backfires. Thanks so much for your input.

  4. Megan - Best of Fates says

    What a horrifying ad – I can’t believe someone actually made that!

  5. Girlfriend, you have nailed this one. Weight, for many, is a symptom. one cannot shame a cold into disappearing and instead must rely on treating the problem. And that’s exactly what’s wrong with this ad campaign. It’s a blanket solution to an issue everyone is pretending doesn’t have a root cause. And by default, it’s going to add to the problem. Shame can’t force something broken into healing.

    Great post. And thank you for mentioning me.

  6. I can totally relate to the aspirin & back pain. It can be frustrating to not know why or how to fix a problem. I’ve become a questioner and yes it drives my doctors nuts. Why should I do this and what should I feel where. These print ads don’t answer anything they don’t impart any useable information.
    You’re beautiful, but of course you know that 😉 I’m glad you took time to share this post.

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